Linking Landscapes to Wetland Condition: A Case Study of Eight Headwater Complexes in Pennsylvania

  • J. B. Moon
  • Denice Heller Wardrop


A major focus of wetland management is on documenting condition, identifying stressors, and determining the relationship between the two. One challenge of this work is to relate and understand the pathways between stressors that are being controlled at the landscape scale to microbially mediated ecosystem ­processes (e.g., nitrification, denitrification, decomposition, methanogenesis) ­happening at much smaller spatial extents. In this chapter, we use a preexisting multiple-stress function (alternately termed an anthropogenic or human disturbance indicator) to select study sites for comparison of condition metrics. More specifically, this is a case study of eight headwater complexes, four reference standard sites, and four “stressed” sites, where landscape and site level structural components are compared and contrasted. The site level components that were selected for this analysis were those known to influence microbially mediated ecosystem processes. We reveal many significant differences in these groups for both landscape parameters across space and time, and in site level components. In addition to collecting process-based data, we suggest that connecting structural baseline data such as those parameters described herein with process-based models, as a way to begin to hypothesize what the collective effects of wetland components are on microbially mediated ecosystem processes, as well as to understand which components are most influential. With this understanding it becomes easier to link processes to landscape-driven stressors, through preexisting knowledge about the links between stressors and wetland structure. We also suggest shifting some attention to spatiotemporal dynamics of the stressor(s), in order to determine the feasibility in managing, restoring, and/or protecting wetland ecosystems.


Land Cover Land Cover Class Stressed Complex Natural Resource Conservation Service Disturbance Score 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was funded through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship Program and the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium. Personnel support was provided by Riparia at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Riparia’s databases were also made available for this work, particularly for site selection. The PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry and Bureau of State Parks, and private landowners Mr. Larry Suwank, Mr. James Dallard, and Mr. David Culp granted property access to study sites. Mr. Brett Dietz, Ms. Sarah Chamberlain, Ms. Susan Yetter, and Ms. Sarah MacDougall provided field assistance for vegetative analyses, soil sampling, and/or microtopographic measurements. Ms. Sarah Chamberlain also assisted with herbaceous species identification and Dr. Gian Rocco advised in measures of microtopography. Ms. Aliana Britson provided assistance on soil series verification. Mr. Keith Moon also provided field assistance and built sampling equipment used in this study. Dr. Joseph Bishop provided topographic parameter measurements and land cover analyses. Dr. Andrew Cole provided well data for all reference standard study sites between 2005 and 2008.

The research described in this study has been funded in part by the United States EPA under the STAR Graduate Fellowship Program. EPA has not officially endorsed this study and the views expressed herein may not reflect the views of the EPA.


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Software References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Riparia, Department of GeographyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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